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482 THE IRON INDUSTRY.
During the last few years great progress has been made in the manufacture of steel in Alabama. At first there was much doubt as to whether it could be successfully made, and enthusiastic articles, were written describing the first tap of steel, with figures showing the percentage of carbon, and phosphorus, and sulphur, and everything else, with many more figures about the ultimate strength and elastic limit. It is not alone in Alabama that this nonsense is perpetrated, for leading technical journals gravely copy figures showing the physical results on a piece of steel made in some new district, as if the information were of importance. Nothing can be of less moment.
If iron ore can be found, and fuel brought to it, steel can be made; and by proper attention it can be made equal to the best; and by proper treatment it can be worked into a bar, and that bar will give a definite tensile strength, elastic limit, elongation and reduction of area, depending on the composition of the metal and the rolling conditions, without any regard to the quality of the ore or whether it was mined in Alabama or Japan. The important point is the cost of the finished material, and this can usually be e&timated just as well before a pound of steel is made as it can during the first few weeks or months of working. It is necessary to know the general character and location of the ore, and the quality and location of the coal, and some other general conditions, in order to determine the probable cost of pig-iron. It is necessary to know whether the conditions are uniform, and whether the sulphur and phosphorus vary very much, in order to know whether the practice can be reduced to the most economical basis. Knowing these things, it is possible to state whether steel can be made commercially and along what lines the best financial results will be obtained. Following this the operation must be conducted by intelligent metallurgists and by honest managers. Unfortunately, Alabama has lacked these essentials in some notable instances, but there has been continual progress, and it is believed that the steel industry of the State has now acquired a secure footing. The only important works is at Ensley, where the duplex process is successfully operated. No statistics are made public concerning the output of steel, either at this works or in the State.